Dogs in the Bible: Insights from Scripture


What does it say about dogs in the bible?

The presence of dogs in the Bible is a topic that sparks curiosity and raises questions among biblical scholars and enthusiasts. While dogs are mentioned in various passages of scripture, their portrayal varies, leading to different interpretations and insights.

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In some instances, dogs are depicted as loyal companions and protectors. In the book of 1 Samuel, we find the story of David, the future king of Israel, and his encounter with the Philistine giant, Goliath. It is said that David came to face Goliath with “a staff in his hand and a shepherd’s bag and a sling.” (1 Samuel 17:40) Interestingly, David also brought his sheepdog, described as “his staff and wallet companion”, which highlights the dog’s role as a guardian and companion.

However, dogs are not always depicted in a positive light in the Bible. In the book of Revelation, Chapter 22, verse 15, it is written, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Here, dogs are mentioned alongside other negative elements, implying their association with wickedness and corruption.

In the Old Testament, dogs are sometimes used as metaphors to describe ungodly people. Psalms 22:16 states, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” This passage is often interpreted as a reference to the suffering of Jesus on the cross, with the dogs symbolizing his tormentors.

Overall, the portrayal of dogs in the Bible offers a nuanced perspective. While they are often seen as loyal and protective, they can also be associated with negative characteristics. Exploring these references deepens our understanding of the cultural and symbolic significance of dogs in biblical times and provides insights into the complex nature of human-animal relationships.

The Role of Dogs in the Bible

Dogs play a significant role in the Bible, representing various aspects of human nature and behavior. While they are mostly portrayed in negative contexts, there are a few instances where dogs are depicted in a positive light.

In the Bible, dogs are often associated with scavenging and uncleanliness. They were commonly seen roaming the streets, scavenging for food. Dogs were considered unclean animals and were not allowed to be eaten under Jewish dietary laws. This association with impurity is reflected in passages such as Psalm 22:16, where the psalmist describes being surrounded by a pack of dogs.

However, there are a few exceptions to this negative portrayal of dogs. In the book of Tobit, a faithful dog accompanies Tobit’s son, Tobias, on his journey and plays a crucial role in his success. The dog remains loyal to Tobias throughout their travels and helps protect him from a demon. This story serves as a reminder of the loyalty and companionship that dogs can provide.

The metaphor of dogs is also used to describe the behavior of wicked individuals. In Philippians 3:2, Paul warns the church to beware of the “dogs” - false teachers who promote a legalistic understanding of salvation. This metaphor highlights the danger of those who distort the truth and lead others astray.

Overall, the role of dogs in the Bible reflects the various aspects of human nature and behavior. They serve as symbols of loyalty and companionship, as well as representing impurity and deceit. Through these portrayals, the Bible provides insights into the complex relationship between humans and dogs, and the lessons we can learn from them.

What Does the Bible Say about Dogs?

In the Bible, dogs are mentioned several times, often in a negative context. In the Old Testament, dogs are seen as unclean animals, associated with ungodliness and impurity. They were often used as a metaphor for wickedness and spiritual danger. For example, in Psalm 22:16, King David laments that his enemies surround him like a pack of dogs, threatening his life.

Additionally, dogs were considered scavengers and unclean animals that would eat anything, including carcasses and waste. In the book of Kings, it is mentioned that King Ahab’s blood was licked up by the dogs, as a sign of judgment for his wickedness. Dogs were also seen as a symbol of unfaithfulness and betrayal. In Proverbs 26:11, it is said that a dog returning to its vomit is similar to a fool repeating his foolishness.

Despite this negative portrayal, there are also positive references to dogs in the Bible. In some instances, dogs are depicted as loyal and protective animals. In the New Testament, Jesus uses the analogy of dogs when he encounters a Gentile woman who asks him to heal her daughter. He praises her great faith, saying, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27).

In conclusion, although dogs are often portrayed negatively in the Bible, they are also used as metaphors and symbols to convey deeper lessons about faith, loyalty, and spiritual truths. Whether depicted as unclean and dangerous or faithful and deserving of mercy, dogs serve as a reminder of the complexity of human nature and our relationship with God.

Dogs as Symbolic Figures in Scripture

Dogs have symbolic significance in several instances throughout the Bible. In some cases, they are used to represent negative characteristics or behaviors, while in others they symbolize loyalty and protection.

One of the most well-known references to dogs in Scripture can be found in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In this parable, dogs are depicted as licking the sores of Lazarus, the poor beggar. This image is used to highlight the suffering and neglect experienced by Lazarus, contrasting it with the lavish lifestyle of the rich man. It serves as a reminder of the importance of compassion and care for the less fortunate.

In another instance, dogs are mentioned in the book of Revelation as part of a list of impure things that will be excluded from the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15). This implies that dogs are associated with uncleanliness or impurity, further emphasizing the symbolic significance of their inclusion in the list.

On the other hand, dogs are also portrayed in a positive light in some biblical passages. For instance, the Psalmist uses the image of a dog to convey the concept of vigilance and trust in God’s protection. In Psalm 59:16, it is written: “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Here, the Psalmist compares God to a fortress and describes himself as a dog, relying on God’s strength and seeking refuge in Him.

In conclusion, dogs serve as symbolic figures in Scripture, representing both negative and positive qualities. They can be seen as a symbol of suffering and neglect, as well as impurity. At the same time, they can also symbolize loyalty, trust, and the seeking of refuge in God’s protection.


What does the Bible say about dogs?

The Bible mentions dogs in several instances. In some cases, dogs are portrayed negatively, as unclean animals or symbols of wickedness. For example, in the Book of Revelation, “outside are the dogs” is used to describe those who practice sorcery or sexual immorality. In other instances, dogs are seen as loyal companions. The story of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel of Matthew highlights the faithfulness of dogs, as she compares herself to a dog begging for scraps from the master’s table.

Are dogs considered unclean in the Bible?

Yes, dogs are considered unclean animals in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus outlines the laws of ritual purity, and dogs are included in the list of unclean animals. They are seen as scavengers that eat carrion and have the potential to spread disease. However, it’s important to note that the Bible’s classification of dogs as unclean is in the context of ritual purity and does not necessarily reflect a negative view of dogs in general.

Do dogs have any positive symbolism in the Bible?

While dogs are often portrayed negatively in the Bible, they do have positive symbolism in some instances. Dogs are known for their loyalty and faithfulness, and these qualities are highlighted in the story of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel of Matthew. Despite being referred to as a “dog” by Jesus, the woman demonstrates unwavering faith and persistence, which leads to the healing of her daughter. This story suggests that dogs can teach us about the importance of steadfastness and devotion.

Are there any biblical stories that involve dogs?

Yes, there are a few biblical stories that involve dogs. One notable story is that of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In the First Book of Kings, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest to determine whose god is the true God. When the prophets of Baal fail to receive a response from their god, Elijah pours water over his sacrifice and prays to God. In response, God sends fire to consume the offering, demonstrating his power. After this, Elijah orders the prophets of Baal to be seized and slaughtered, and their bodies were left for the dogs to eat.

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